Public health surveillance

ESR’s internationally renowned experts collect, collate and analyse data and intelligence on a wide range of diseases present in New Zealand.

Our public health surveillance involves the ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of data on specific health events for use in the planning, implementation and evaluation of public health programmes. This extensive surveillance allows us to identify and characterise individual strains and cases of disease, track any changes in them, and to detect outbreaks and assess the effectiveness of control measures, including vaccines.

ESR manages the Notifiable Diseases Database, and uses this information, along with our reference laboratory information and the information collected from laboratories, to analyse data and provide intelligence on a wide range of diseases including measles, influenza, gastroenteritis, hepatitis and meningococcal disease. Other non-notifiable diseases that ESR undertakes surveillance for are influenza-like illnesses and sexually transmitted infections as well as laboratory surveillance of pathogens of public health importance.

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Much of this work is undertaken under our agreement with the Ministry of Health and allows us to support our clients to predict where possible, prepare for, identify, respond to actual and potential human biosecurity and public health threats.

Useful links:

Laboratory-based health surveillance

ESR undertakes laboratory-based surveillance of communicable diseases and pathogens of public health importance. For this surveillance, diagnostic laboratories throughout New Zealand refer specimens or bacterial isolates from their patients to ESR's national reference laboratories for strain identification and epidemiological typing.

Patient specimens and bacterial isolates from the communicable diseases and pathogens listed below should be referred routinely by diagnostic laboratories to the relevant ESR laboratory for typing/surveillance purposes (this does not include specimens for diagnostic testing, nor for requests on a fee for test basis).

Please use a test request form(external link) to submit a specimens or bacterial isolate to ESR.

ESR Health Lab


 Lab details

Invasive Pathogens:

  • Bordetella pertussis (isolates currently for storage only)

  • Haemophilus influenzae from cases of invasive disease

  • Neisseria meningitidis from sterile sites, conjunctiva, throat swabs from cases of meningococcal disease (where this is the only isolate available) and NAAT positive DNA specimens

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae from cases of invasive disease

  • Streptococcus pyogenes (group A streptococcus) - from cases of invasive and other serious disease e.g. glomerulonephritis, necrotising fasciitis, rheumatic fever and septic arthritis, or outbreaks of infection

Invasive Pathogens Laboratory

Kenepuru Science Centre

34 Kenepuru Drive, Porirua 5022


  • Legionella isolates

  • Respiratory specimens from confirmed legionellosis cases

  • Extracted DNA from NAT-confirmed legionellosis cases

  • Paired (acute and convalescent) serum

  • Convalescent serum specimens from legionellosis cases confirmed by NAAT and/or urinary antigen testing or specifically where requested by the Medical Officer of Health

Legionella Reference Laboratory

Kenepuru Science Centre

34 Kenepuru Drive, Porirua 5022

Special Bacteriology:

  • Corynebacterium diphtheriae and C. ulcerans

  • Listeria monocytogenes from cases of invasive disease

Special Bacteriology Laboratory 

Kenepuru Science Centre

34 Kenepuru Drive, Porirua 5022

Antibiotic Reference:

  • Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales and Pseudomonas spp.

  • Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii

  • Colistin-resistant Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae

  • Vancomycin-resistant or linezolid-resistant Enterococcus faecium and E. faecalis 

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae with decreased susceptibility to ceftriaxone or high-level azithromycin resistance (≥ 16 mg/L.)

  • Vancomycin non-susceptible, daptomycin-resistant or linezolid-resistant Staphylococcus aureus

  • Penicillin non-susceptible Streptococcus pyogenes

  • Organisms with other critical emerging resistance mechanisms

  • Multidrug-resistant organisms associated with outbreaks (following consultation with ESR)

Antibiotic Reference Laboratory

Kenepuru Science Centre

34 Kenepuru Drive, Porirua 5022

Nosocomial Infections:

  • Staphylococcus aureus from blood

Nosocomial Infections Laboratory

Kenepuru Science Centre

34 Kenepuru Drive, Porirua 5022

Enteric, Environmental and Food Virology:

  • Hepatitis A – serum or plasma (and faecal specimens where possible) from IgM positive or NAT-confirmed  confirmed cases

  • Norovirus - faecal specimens from suspected norovirus outbreaks with a corresponding outbreak number assigned by the local Public Health Unit

  • Rotavirus – faecal specimens from screening test positive cases

Enteric, Environmental and Food Virology Laboratory

Kenepuru Science Centre

34 Kenepuru Drive, Porirua 5022

Enteric bacteria:

  • Cronobacter sakazakii from sterile sites

  • Salmonella species, including S. Typhi and S. Paratyphi

  • Shigatoxin/verotoxin producing E.coli

  • Shigella species

  • Yersinia species

  • Vibrio cholerae, V. albensis and V. parahaemolyticus from sterile sites or cases of acute gastroenteritis.

Enteric Reference Laboratory  

Wallaceville Science Centre

66 Ward Street, Upper Hutt 5018


  • Leptospira cultures

  • Leptospira IgM- positive serum specimens

  • Paired or convalescent serum specimens from suspected/confirmed leptospirosis cases

Leptospira Reference Laboratory 

Wallaceville Science Centre

66 Ward Street, Upper Hutt 5018


  • Acute flaccid paralysis/Polio – faecal specimens from cases/suspected cases

  • Dengue - specimens from NAAT and NS1 antigen-confirmed cases

  • Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) - respiratory specimens from suspected cases

  • Non-seasonal (novel) influenza strains (i.e. non influenza A H3, A H1pdm, or B) – respiratory specimens from cases/suspected cases

  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) – respiratory specimens from suspected cases 

Clinical Virology Laboratory

Wallaceville Science Centre

66 Ward Street, Upper Hutt 5018

 Please note:

  • Measles confirmatory NAAT and genotype testing is now performed by Canterbury Health Laboratories, Christchurch
  • Identification of fungi and aerobic actinomycetes is performed by the Mycology Reference Laboratory, LabPlus, Auckland